The Conduct of Lord Avebury - Privileges Committee Contents


Annex C: Letter from Mr Cook to the Clerk, 23 September 2011

Possible Breach of the House of Lords Code of Practice

I acknowledge receipt of your communication dated 21st September 2011 and I appreciate your drawing my attention to the specific sections of the "Code of Conduct" relevant to my complaint.

I have noted sections 102 and 103 which appear to be only applicable to Members of the House of Lords.

Section 104: On the 13th September 2011 my Solicitors sent to Lord Avebury's Solicitors a copy of my complaint. As far as I am aware there has been no reaction from him to date.

Section 105: My complaint was made in writing in accordance with this section.

Section 106: In order to further clarify my complaint I am forwarding herewith a slightly amended copy of it, highlighting in red my concerns [see below]. The only evidence I can produce (should these be required) are copies of the invoices submitted to the Partnership by Lord Avebury together with the annual accounts showing the payments that have a been made to him.

Section 107: I have made every effort to ensure this correspondence has been treated in a completely confidential manner. I have no wish to publicise it.

Finally, I would like to express my appreciation of your kind assistance in this matter and I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Revised version of letter from Mr Cook to the Registrar of Lords' Interests[9]

Possible Breach of the House of Lords Code of Practice

I have recently had passed to me Lord Avebury's Declaration of Interests' and I was surprised by what I perceived to be certain omissions. As a consequence I feel it is my duty to refer the matter to you as it seems to me to conflict in many respects with the "Code of Conduct" expected of members of the House of Lords.

I would appreciate any help and guidance you can give me in this matter. As a matter of courtesy I have copied this letter to Lord Avebury's Solicitors.

I will set out the situation as I see it (having full regard to the "Peers Code of Conduct"), and based on Lord Avebury's Statutory Declaration of Interests.

Under the following headings he states:

Directorships

He declares a controlling interest in a limited company and states in brackets (computer hardware and software; provides management advice to a partnership, (without further description) in which it has a 50% interest).

He does not mention the fact that it is a two-man partnership which derives most of its income from waste disposal into a landfill site and of which the partnership is the beneficial owner. This is, as far as I am aware, his major source of income and in one year recently provided him with £400,000 although it probably now averages in excess of £150,000 p.a. This information is not mentioned in his declaration. Neither, at this moment in time, is it possible to ascertain that his Parliamentary claim for expenses is being in any way duplicated through the expenses claimed from his limited company. There is no evidence one way or another.

Remunerated employment, office, profession etc.

He declares his profession as being an 'Engineer' (non-practising). No mention again of his true Remunerated employment.

Land & Property

He simply declares 390 acres of arable land. (He makes no reference to the fact that it is fully leased, by him, to the company of which he is a partner at an annual rent of £23,716 increasing with the RPI each year.)

He does not mention that this in turn is leased by the Partnership to a national waste management company and that it comprises a large Landfill waste site, a waste disposal operation, a recycling plant, large scale stone and mineral extraction, an energy from waste plant and other ancillary activities connected to the waste industry. This currently provides the income I have drawn your attention to, under "Directorships" and shows his total income from the waste industry to be approaching £200,000 p.a.

Relying simply on his "Statutory Declaration of Interests", it would be difficult for anyone to be able to discover, (or ascertain), that he has a substantial interest in, and, derives a massive income from, the Waste Industry. There doesn't appear to be any clue whatsoever to this fact. Consequently from his Statutory Declaration he could, conceivably, present himself as a champion of all matters environmental without anyone having the slightest suspicion of, or being able to ascertain what some may see as an apparent conflict of interest (and in the general public's eye, the possible hypocrisy of it).

I would welcome your view, on my supposition that such a case, however one looks at it, might be construed as being tantamount to an attempt to mislead both Parliament and the general public at large as to his true outside interests and remuneration therefrom.

I should also add that although the waste industry is a much maligned activity, it is one that I have been proud to be associated with for over 40 years. For a Peer to hide from the general public, for whatever reason, his own connection with the industry, does a great disservice to those who strive so hard, on no more than average wages, to maintain this important Public Service.



9   Text added to the earlier version of Mr Cook's letter is given in italics.  Back


 
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